Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Margi's Dia de los Muertos Altar

Here are some photos that Carolyn sent to me from the Dia de Los Muertos altar that was created for Margi at Barnsdall.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Margi's altar at Barnsdall Junior ArtCenter

This is the latest regarding Margi's altar at Barnsdall Junior ArtCenter:

Met with Luis and Gerda this evening; Margi's altar will be outdoors,a center table against the building with 2 other altars on either side; Luis will be there all day Thursday and Friday, painting the table, draping it with cloth, bringing items to add to it; anyone who would like to add something to the altar can come any time they wish on those days.

Luis suggested that, if possible, we pick a time: like 4-5pm on Friday to meet at the altar to add our own items, say a few words or just share our own memories of Margi; like another memorial of sorts. With our individual schedules and various locations, that may not be as easy as we wish, but we can keep it loose.

The altar should all be done by 5pm on Friday, and may be up for the weekend. Luis works at Barnsdall and will protect it if the weather suddenly changes. The general festivities at Barnsdall: music, food, exhibition, etc., will begin at 7:00pm, but workshops and classes begin around 4:00pm.

If everyone brings 1 or 2 items (and they can be anything you wish) that will be great. Invite anyone you know who loved Margi and her work to participate; this is a celebration.

Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Margi is in the manzanita

on the Pacific Crest Trail. During a late September writing retreat near Anza, CA, I discovered the Pacific Crest Trail passed nearby, on its way south to Mexico and north to the rest of the U.S. On one of my first walks I saw this healthy, happy, solitary manzanita growing in dry sandy soil near a tumble of rocks. On a later hike, I put half my baggie of Margi ashes around the manzanita's roots, and used some of the water in my water bottle to help the ashes blend into the soil. It seemed to me a spot Margi would have appreciated, desert lover that she was, and that she would like knowing that a little bit of her was helping this lustrous plant to thrive. Namaste, Margi.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Altares for Margi - Dia de los Muertos Celebration

Every year Luis organizes the Dia de los Muertos Celebrations at Barnsdall Art Park. He would like to have Margi's friends prepare an altares. The dates to install the altares is October 22-26, and for structure and finishing details, November 2nd. The official opening is November 2nd with music, food, and free workshops. Those interested should contact Luis directly at (323) 574-9191 or

Monday, August 27, 2007

Margi is on the wild beach

I took Margi's ashes to the wild beach yesterday. I walked along the beach, thinking of Margi and our walk a few months back along this coast. She loved this beach and the day that we had taken our walk, there were young seals migrating though jumping in and out of the water and older seals who would just pop their heads out of the water and silently watch us. Margi loved the wildness of this beach. Yesterday I walked along and came upon this tree branch structure that created a large "M" and knew that this was my sign from Margi. I walked in a circle and left Margi's ashes there and in the surf. There were some dead seals and birds on the beach that day and I felt that Margi is not alone and that beach just reeked of swirling life and death and the combined creative forces. Namaste Margi.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Memorial in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 18th

A memorial will be held for Margi in Los Angeles on August 18th, 2007. All friends and family are invited. Location and time is still to be determined.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Margi's obituary is in today's LA Times

Margi's obit is in today's (July 13th) LA Times. Thanks so much to Penelope Moffet for making this happen. She researched and wrote a preliminary article, sent it to the LA Times obituary section as a "tip," then served as a source for LA Times staffwriter Mary Rourke, who wrote the newspaper obituary.

Message from Joseph Kosuda

On behalf of my Family I must make it absolutely known to all, how much we appreciate the care you have shown our dear little peanut.

Her Friend's who gathered together at the end, and have had her in their thoughts all along have been a great comfort to Margi and to her Family. We deeply appreciate the love you have shown our Margi. She was blessed to have you all. She was blessed in so many ways. In my mind, her fortune was that she had such a love of humankind, and that made her so special to all of us who had the exceptional fortune to know her.

Peace, and Comfort from worry to you all.

Joseph Kosuda
Additional Scheduled Memorials for Margi Scharff and Family Information

Memorials for Margi Scharff (Peanut)on Aug. 4th, 2007
( her Maternal Grandmother's Birthday / Synakowski Mother's Maiden Name)

- Memorial Mass at St. Stanislaus, Buffalo, NY - Held by family member Aunt Wanda Medwid
- Memorial Liturgy at St. Gabriel's Byzantine Catholic Church & Panachida,
Las Vegas, NV
Held by family member Aunt Jane Copus and Cantor Mathew Copus
Cousin John K. Back-Kosuda and Nephew Joseph Kosuda

- Memorial Mass at St. Timothy's, Orlando, FL.
Held by Aunt Marge Glapinski

- Perpetual Vigil by Sisters of Nazareth- Torresdale, PA.
Held by Great Aunt, Sister Mary Medarda (Synakowski) ~ Mother Provincial of Sisters of Nazareth (Retired)

-- Margi is also remembered by Uncles John, Thomas, Leo and Martin Synakowski

Monday, July 09, 2007

Margi's ashes

July 7,2007

Margi loved the view from the deck at Judy and Clyde's beautiful home in Tiburon, CA. She retreated to it to sit in the sun and be away from the wind and to watch the sunset and boats on the bay. She would take her O2 with her and was content to sit with her tea and be out of her room. Judy and I sprinkled a bit of Margi on the deck and over the rail to the land below. “You’re always welcome to sit here”, is what Judy told her.

The fog had lifted and a hawk was riding the air currents over the hill when I finally walked up the hill behind Clyde and Judy’s home. The Golden Gate Bridge was still partially in the fog, but the sail boats were taking advantage of the breeze that was chasing the fog away. This is where I left a bit of Margi - up on top of the hill - with the beautiful view and the mountain that she claimed as ‘hers’. A place that she found sacred and special with the wild deer. A place that will always have a piece of her now, too.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Margi died tonight at 10PM PST - July 2, 2007

Margi died tonight surrounded by friends and family. She did not have pain but with the help of hospice she was able to drift into a deep sleep and then pass. She felt all the love of her friends and family right up to the end and this was so important to her. Margi requested that for the three days after she dies to please think of her having a "safe passage". She felt that if we all thought of her during these three days and wished her a safe passage then she could make it to her next destination safely. So keep her in your hearts and mind and know that she is continuing her journey....

Friday, June 29, 2007


Hi All - I had a friend ask me to continue to post updates on Margi. Frankly, it has been hard to want to update the blog as her daily struggles to continue each day have become so difficult. Each day she wakes up, takes meds aimed at providing her comfort and relief from pain but they also make her thinking muddled and this frustrates her. Margi does not want to die in this foggy way where she is so out of it that she doesn't realize what's going on. She thinks that she would like more clarity but she balances this with also not wanting pain. She has good and bad days but the cancer is progressing. She doesn't go out much, only to treatments. She sleeps a bit during the day as she is up most of the night. The meds and cancer make her nauseous and she wakes up often during the night. She lives each day as if it could be her last or the start of a miraculous recovery where she will live another 100 never know with Margi!!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The latest news

Hi All,

Just wanted to let you know that it has been a couple of weeks of stark contrasts. On one hand Margi is struggling to breathe. The cancer in her lungs is making her very uncomfortable, tire easily and making it hard to walk. She is starting to take morphine and other medicines aimed at helping her breathe easier but is struggling with the associated nausea. Hopefully getting the combinations correct she will start to feel some relief.

On the other hand, she has had a nice review in the LA Times:

Her work is getting some good recognition. We, in Tiburon, are trying to help make Margi as comfortable as possible, help her with the neccessary paperwork so that she has access to hospice and palliative care and surround her with love. Rachel and I went with Margi up the hill near the house and had a wonderful picnic. Margi was so happy to be able to make it up the hill and it made us so happy to be able to spend time with her.
all the best,

Friday, May 18, 2007

Margi's prognosis from the doctor (based on an email from Margi)

In trying to keep you all up to date with Margi's situation, here is an email that Margi sent out yesterday, May 17th, regarding her visit to an Oncologist. Margi has told me that she is okay with me updating the blog with her health situation. She will only use the blog to write her stories from now on. I have removed some names and shortened a bit but the rest is direct from the email.(ag)

Sent Thursday, May 17th from Margi--
Other news (the other side of the seesaw! Or-- the other shoe drops) is that Judy and I went to an oncologist, today and though we liked her very much -- the prognosis is still grim. It wasn't that she gave us new information but it's just hard hearing it every time. Basically she said the cancer in the lungs would most likely be the cause of death and that we were dealing with a matter of months rather than years. She is totally on board with us on making sure we have access to palliative care. And she has no issues or negative judgements about my decsion to decline the surgery chemo route. She said she felt I had a very clear grasp on the nature of this disease and the treatments available and that she would be supportive in any way possible. She has no attitude about the alternative therapies but said that although she hasn't seen evidence that it can change the outcome--if it brings me any comfort it's worth doing it. I'm happy to have her on the team.

I'll be continuing on the C therapy for 3 more weeks under the guidance of the naturopath, at 4 days a week to see if there is any measurable change in the cancer count. Then we'll take it from there.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Margi's May 12th opening at Overtones

Hi All - Here are some photo's from Margi's opening.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Margi's opening at Overtones gallery

Hi All - Just got back home from Margi's opening in LA. It was a fabulous opening and the work looked great. The gallery owner, Elizabeta, had done a wonderful job framing and hanging the show. The placed was packed and Margi sold one of her snake pieces. Margi was not feeling great the day of the show but by that night, with help from Caroline doing a biofeedback treatment, rest and some good ole ibprofen, Margi rose to the occasion and truly enjoyed the night. The part that Margi liked the best was seeing all of her wonderful friends and being in the middle of all the conversations and love. She slept pretty well that night and around noon Brad, a very dear friend, picked her up from the Jolly Roger to head back up to Tiburon.
Keep up the loving thoughts and energy that you are all sending her. She is receiving it and believes that it is really helping her. Larry and Gina - Margi saw you at the opening and was sorry not to have been able to speak to get to you before you left. She really appreciated seeing you there and wanted to give you a hug! Email her if you get a chance.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Margi's show and update

Hi friends and family of Margi,

Margi's show at Overtones gallery in Los Angeles is opening this Saturday, May 12th. The opening is from 7 - 10pm. She will be there.

11306 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
t: 310.915.0346

I saw Margi on Sunday, May 6th. She is staying with her cousin Judy and Judy's husband Clyde up in Tiburon, CA. She looked great though very thin. She must way around 95 pounds. Her cancer is no longer in remission as you've probably read in the last blog entry and she is undergoing intraveneous megadoses of vitamin C twice a week. She has decided not to go through, at this time, the chemo and surgery route. Margi decided that the recovery from the surgery and then the chemo necessary afterwards would be so dibilitating that the balance of the possible extra time that it may give her compared with the quality of her life after the operation wasn't worth the ordeal. She would rather, at this time, try an alternative. She values the ability to be able to go for a walk and eat a meal without nauseau. At this time she is not feeling a lot of pain. Some discomfort from the ascetis and she tires easily. We went for a gorgeous walk near where she is staying and even in her current physical state she is able to walk up the hill and go for a pretty vigorous hilly walk. We had a great meal in Tiburon and looked into taking a ferry over to Angel Island. She is in a great location and accessible by ferry from San Francisco.

I live just a couple of hours from where she is staying and will try and keep blogging with news from Margi.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Big December Scare

(from Margi)

I think that the big scare last December (when the nurse in Memphis misread the results of my CA125 test) served a purpose. She actually read the patient I.D. number, which unfortunately was over 1000 and would have been higher than my original Stage IV number in February 2006. The actual CA125 test value fortunately turned out to be 12-- a nice number well within the normal (0-35) range. But the mistake wasn’t discovered for almost a week. Okay-- the purpose of that torturous time you are asking?

Well, after listening to an oncologist in L.A. describe the likely scenario that conventional medicine had in store for me—exploratory surgery and likely implanting a chemo-pump into my abdomen so that I could undergo “extended” chemotherapy, as in, for the duration-- whatever that might be-- and very possibly a colostomy just for extra fun. He also mentioned that the costs would be astronomical (his exact word) and that I would never be able to afford it and so he would refer me to L.A. County Hospital. I suppose they have a special program for those who are ready to donate their live bodies to medical science…

So in the spirit of contributing to medical science I decided I would prefer, this time around, to be the lab animal for a different set of experiments. ‘The ‘Big December Scare’ as I now refer to it, prompted me to take a look at alternative therapies for cancer treatment. There were many therapies out there and I suppose I chose this particular one for it’s overall approach of building up the immune system while also removing toxins in the body. (I never really fully recovered from the energy draining effects of the chemo or the general feeling of nausea. Nor have I been able to completely rid myself of that come and go sinus/chest infection.) So, when my recent CA125 came out at 251 I hightailed it to the Big Island at a Naturopathic Retreat where “Gerson Therapy” along with other therapies are offered.

Dr. Baylac is a naturopathic doctor who runs the Center. In addition to the G.T. she tailors the routine to address individual problems. She is also a psychologist which is helpful in dealing with the fear factor.

My current address for the next few weeks is:

17-502 Ipuaiwaha Street
Keaau, Hawaii 96749

In this address the English word ‘street’ has the highest consonant to vowel ratio.

Maybe it’s the influence of the volcanoes—volcano culture—living in a place where the earth’s mouth is O-shaped and ready to blow smoke rings into the sky.

Hawaii is filled with vowels. All the extra I’s and O’s and U’s give me comfort and reminds me I.O.U. all! But I am especially fond of the O’s. O for open ended. O for
the chanting sound Ooooooooohhhhmmm. O for the circular cycles of life and death
and life and on and on and on. Okay, O for off too. O for Oh thank-you soooo much
for loving me. O for of course. O for oops and oingy boingy. O for ovaries growing healthy. And O for the mouth of the volcano, Pu’u O’o, who slowly flows her hot molten lava onto the open sea.

Time of Day (Gerson style):

8am (so to speak)
Orange juice
Breakfast-- fresh fruit (assorted), oatmeal, raisins.
Acidol 2 tabs (enzymes—pepsin, betane HCI, raw pancreas)
Potassium compound (added to juice)
Lugols (iodine—added to juice)
Thyroid 1/2 grain (levothyroxine T4-- 19mcg, liothyronine T3-- 4.5mcg)
Niacin 50 mgs
Pancreatin—3 tabs (digestive enzymes—325mg)
CoEnzymeQ10 (200 mg)
Inf-zyme Forte-- 3tabs (proteolytic enzymes complex: pancreatin, bromelain, papain,
trypsin,chymotrypsin, rutin, lipase, zinc, superoxide dismutase, catalase, L-cysteine)
Vitamin C 500mg (citrus bioflavinoid complex 250mg—hesperidin,naringin, flavones
& phenolics)

Green juice (w/ potassium)
Vit C

Apple/carrot juice (w/potassium & iodine)
Vit C

Apple/carrot juice (w/P & I)
Thyroid tab
Vit C

Liver caps 2-- 500 mg (defatted, bovine)
B12 injection

Green juice (w/P)
Vit C

Apple/carrot juice (w/P&I)
Lunch—cooked & raw vegetables & salad, etc.
Flax seed oil 1tbsp
Supplements same as with breakfast plus Indole-3-Carbinol 200mg
Green juice (w/P)
Vit C

Liver caps 2

Liver caps 2

Apple/carrot juice (w/P&I)
Supplements—thryroid, niacin, pancreatin, Vit C

Apple/carrot juice (w/P&I)
Dinner—cooked & raw vegetables & salad, etc
Flax seed oil 1tbsp
Supplements same as lunch

Green juice (w/P)
Supplements—niacin & Vit C

Before bed
Melatonin 20mg

*All juices are fresh squeezed
In general, it is a low sodium, low fat, low protein diet designed to transform the
body into an inhospitable environment for cancer cells…

Ride the Current

Take me
to a quiet place
where I can hear
the sounds that are small.
Let the wind lift
and whirl me round.
A feather’s dance
in lightness of air.
Spinning first upwards
then down
to ride
water’s rippled surface.
down --
the feather sees no difference
between the currents.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Margi & the volcano

On Tuesday, March 13, Margi flew to the big island of Hawaii to participate in an alternative medicine program to treat her cancer. This trip was spurred by a CA-125 test the previous week that came back with a count of 251 (normal range for the CA-125, which tests for ovarian cancer, is 0-35). She made the decision to go to Hawaii very soon after getting the test results, so was not able to let very many people know she was going. She will probably be there a total of two weeks.

The Gerson Therapy program focuses on nutrition, organic foods, meditation and positive thinking, from what I can gather from the website. There are also enemas. (As Margi says, she's "getting it from both ends," but at least the coffee enemas mean she gets a little caffeine each day!) You can read more about the program by visiting its website:

While Margi has some access to email while she's there, it is very limited access, as they discourage people from spending very much time in front of computer screens. So if you write to her, don't be surprised if it's a rather long time before you hear back. She's focusing hard on trying to help her body heal.

Main attractions of the program for her, aside from her desire to try a non-traditional approach to strengthening her body against the illness, are the presence of a live volcano nearby, warm ocean waters to swim in, and sea turtles to perhaps swim with.